By David Hunter
Riva Del Garda – Iseo 155km
The final day before the high mountains.
The race begins with a climb and the opening half is in a tunnel! Just when you thought the Giro couldn’t get any weirder.
The climb is 10km at 5.3%, which is challenging enough, but the tunnel will make things crazy. To think that this climb isn’t even categorised, despite being the hardest lump of the day.
The next climb is 11.5km at 3.6%, followed by 6km at 4.4%. The stage then ends with a lap circuit around Iseo.
Relatively easy, without technical sections.
After what happened to Chaves, I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of the big GC teams set a fierce tempo in the tunnel. If they manage to put a rival into difficulty, they push on. If they don’t it’s time to move over and let someone else have some fun.
The stage has 2000m of climbing, which usually sees a stage end in a sprint. However, coming in the final week of a grand tour, it gives breakaway riders the chance of succeeding. If the break has the right mix of riders, I don’t see it coming back. With Viviani and Bennett the dominant sprinters, I can’t see any other team chasing all day. If Quickstep or Bora make the morning move, the break should stay away.
Should be a sunny day for the bunch.
The Usual Suspects
Alessandro De Marchi – he’s been very keen to make moves, probably a little too keen. De Marchi clearly has great legs, but he needs to be more patient when moves are forming. If he can keep calm, the move will present itself to him. Once there, he doesn’t have a great sprint, but his huge engine will be dangerous in the closing stages.
Nico Denz – that’s two stages where he’s been very close to a win. Denz is currently enjoying the best form of his career and this is his last chance to win a stage in the race. AG2R have been good at making the breaks, I expect this to continue.
Luis Leon Sanchez – still without a stage win. Sanchez has enjoyed a brilliant season, but he would love to take his first win in the Giro. Astana are yet to win a stage in the race, something I didn’t expect given the strength of depth in their team. Sanchez will have another try tomorrow.
Matej Mohoric – has his stage win, but the form is good enough for another. The finish is good news for Mohoric as he packs a fine sprint.
Tony Martin – after a stunning TT, the German will be hunting for a stage win. A master of the long range attack, he’ll be happy to make the front selection. As we have seen in previous wins, his rivals cannot allow him any freedom in the closing 50km.
Gianluca Brambilla – it’s just not clicked for the little Italian, but he’ll keep trying. Despite a poor race, one win would turn it all around for him.
Valerio Conti – another rider who has impressed, but hasn’t managed to take a win. He’ll keep knocking on the door, I think he’ll get a win soon.
Koen Bouwman – very unlucky not to win back on stage 8, it would be good to see him in another break. Bouwman is a good climber, but he also packs a fine sprint.
Sam Bennett – he’ll win if we get a sprint.
Bora hit the climb hard and distance Viviani. They then pull all day long and set up the sprint for Bennett.
The GC riders test their legs on the first climb, smashing the peloton to pieces. Once the dust settles, a strong break escapes and it’s too much for Bora to chase down.
An early move goes, featuring Bora and QuickStep. The break stays away.
It might be boring, but I’ll go with the first scenario and a win for Sam Bennett.
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